The stage was set today for what will most likely be some very interesting debate tomorrow on four Senate Bills regarding abortion in North Dakota. Consideration of amendments were heard for the following bills:

SB 2305, which if passed will require any doctor performing an abortion in the state to be licensed in North Dakota, to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion facility, and staff privileges to replace hospital on-staff physicians at that hospital. The amendment introduced a few wording changes to the original bill, and passed 32 to 15

SCR 4009 seeks to place a constitutional measure on the ballot which simply states “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected”. This amendment’s most significant change was to replace “defended” with “protected”, and passed 33 to 14.

SB 2303 would define, in criminal code, that a human being “means an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development”. Significant clarifications to the original bill were introduced centered around abortions necessary as a medical procedure to preserve the life of the mother. This amendment passed 35 to 12. A similar bill passed the House in 2011, but died via procedure in the Senate, causing many in the Pro-Life community to question if Lt. Gov Drew Wrigley had received direction from Gov. Jack Dalrymple to kill the bill without a vote. Video of the floor proceedings from 2011 is below:

The last bill reviewed for amendments was SB 2302, concerning the ethical treatment of embryos. The amendments further defined numerous parts of the original bill, passing 36 to 11.

Usually the consideration of amendments is a relatively non-controversial part of a floor assembly, and in the Senate is most often done by a voice vote. Senator Margaret Sitte, the prime sponsor on on SCR 4009 and SB 2302, filed a petition for a recorded vote, however. While the debate on amendments was primarily limited to the amendments themselves; between what was conducted (sorry, I don’t have the toys Rob does to embed specific parts of the video… but you can go here to watch. The debate starts a 1:09pm on the slider) and the call for recorded votes (thus putting each Senators’ vote in the journal for all to see), it is safe to assume tomorrow’s floor session be quite contentious. That should come at no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the abortion debate just due to it’s nature, but also because of the split Do/ Do Not recommendation that came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 2305 and SCR 4009 each received a Do Pass recommendation, while the other two SB’s did not. In each instance, the committee vote was split 4-3. The closeness of these votes may very well indicate the spread of tomorrow’s votes; the question is, in what direction?

Tune in tomorrow if you can for what will be an interesting debate and no holds barred look at the legislative process in North Dakota. The video page link is here.